Sneak Peek of Art Stage Singapore's Southeast Asia Platform

In recent years, Southeast Asian contemporary art, and in particular Indonesian art, has been on the ascent internationally. In 2010, one of Indonesia’s foremost collectors Deddy Kusama helped organize ‘The Grass Looks Greener Where You Water It – An Indonesian Contemporary Art Showcase’ as part of the ArtParis+Guests fair at the Grand Palais, and Indonesian artists enjoyed the limelight further in 2011 with two important exhibitions “Indonesian Eye: Fantasies & Realities” at Saatchi Gallery in London and “Transfigurations, Mythologies Indonesiennes” at the Louis Vuitton Cultural Space in Paris.

Last year, the Guggenheim Museum in New York organized a landmark exhibition, “NO Country, showcasing 22 artists from the region, while the Singapore Biennale, still running until February 16, also favored artists in the region, giving the opportunity to many lesser-known emerging artists to be showcased to a wider international public.

Yet, this international recognition has been far from uniform across the region, points Rudolf Lorenzo, director of Art Stage Singapore, adding that while many Indonesian and Filipino artists are now represented by reputed international galleries, artists from smaller countries are still struggling. “Who knows what’s going on in Myanmar?” he muses, adding “we have many countries in the region that are still emerging. They have interesting artists, but absolutely no infrastructure in term of galleries.”

Art Stage Singapore 2014 is offering collectors the opportunity to discover some of these artists with its Southeast Asian platform, a curated sales exhibition bringing together established and emerging artists from the region. Soe Naing, a pioneering abstract expressionist in the Myanmar art scene, is presenting “Intermission On Stage,”

an installation of nearly 10,000 “diary sketches” he created during the heavily censored environment of the Burmese military regime, which will be slowly revealed to the public during the fair. Justin Lim, a rising star in Malaysian contemporary art, presents “There Is No Other Paradise,” a visual montage of characters and decaying objects that touches on issues of racial divide and religion, while Bounpaul Phothyzan of Laos showcases his study of human desire, “Controlled Desire,” a hanging installation of human figures creating the shape of Na Li Phon, or “Miracle Fruit,” thought to bring good fortune to their owner, an allusion to society consumerism.

“The Platform creates a space where artists and galleries or art spaces which would otherwise not have been exhibiting in Art Stage, can be seen alongside their peers from elsewhere in the region and beyond. For me, what is particularly excellent is that senior, well-known artists who already have an established collector following will be showing work alongside younger, lesser-known artists,” says Roger Nelson, an independent curator, and a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne researching recent visual art from Cambodia.

Nelson was one of the art experts that helped Art Stage put the platform together, as he advised on several artists from Cambodia. Lim Sokchanlina and Anida Yoeu Ali, the two Cambodian artists that were selected, have both already exhibited internationally. Anida Yoeu Ali was included in a group exhibition of diasporic Cambodian women in New York last year, while Lim Sokchanlina also had a site-specific art installation in the Big Apple last year. “Both are exciting artists making important work, and both play leading roles in the art community in Cambodia, alongside their international profile,” Nelson notes.

Art Stage has prepared a busy schedule of talks with artists, giving an opportunity to viewers to learn more about their practices.
Click on the slideshow to see some of the works on offer.

As first published on